The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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‘Simon Says’ Namaste

After her first experience with the bar scene during college, Shauna Simon realized that a loud, crowded atmosphere wasn’t for her. Instead, she turned to the peaceful art of yoga. Forty years later, she still “ohms” every day.

Simon has been teaching music at Wood Acres Elementary School for 15 years and opened up her own yoga studio, Simon Says Yoga, two years ago. The studio recently moved from its original location to another space across the street in Sumner Place.

Simon hopes to create a friendly and comfortable atmosphere at her studio, she said. She has become friends with many of her students and knows most of them on a first-name basis.

A patron at Simon Says Yoga practices a pose. Simon Says Yoga recently moved locations to Sumner Place. Photo courtesy

“Often students see people here who they have seen around, or their kids went to the same school or played sports together,” Simon said. “People just really connect.”

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The studio is a family-run business, which contributes to the personable atmosphere, she said. Her husband used his expertise as a woodworker to help design the studio space and her daughter hand-dyes the fabric for the bolsters, firm narrow pillows Simon uses as a tool in her classes. Her son Zach acts as the marketing manager for the studio and helps connect Simon to her students using fliers, Facebook and Twitter.

“My parents have done a lot for me in my lifetime – just always supported me in what I love to do,” Zach Simon-Alexander said. “So I wanted to help her out and make sure things got off the ground so she could recognize her dream.”

The studio’s 12 instructors are educated in several styles of yoga, but mainly teach hatha and vinyasa flow styles.

“Hatha means sun-moon, ying-yang, putting everything together into one nice package,” Simon said. “You hold those poses for a long time. But vinyasa flows from one pose to another.”

The studio offers more than ten different types of classes, including those designed for the elderly and for the deaf. They have a large selection of children’s classes that begin before birth and continue through adulthood.

Despite the short attention span of most children, Simon is able to calm young students to perform breathing exercises. When she brings out the breathing ball, for example, all the kids sit down in a circle and breathe according to the inflation and deflation motions of the ball. It engages the children and gives them the tools to find peace that are often hard to find, Simon said.

“With the world the way it is – all the media and the problems people have – it’s a great resource to be able to sit and close your eyes,” she said. “It’s a little beyond exercise and more a state of being. I think the kids really get that.”

Feeling centered is an aspect of yoga infused in many of Simon’s classes. She often shares inspirational quotes with her students to emphasize the importance of taking time out of their chaotic lives to focus on themselves. However, people sometimes find it difficult to connect with their emotions and feelings. Often, they resist for the fear of what they might find, Simon said.

“Just being quiet and breathing, feeling where you are, with a little guidance, can really help, even if you do it for five minutes,” she said.

Yoga has many physical benefits and helps to bring balance to the body, Simon said. Many people live fast-paced, stressful lives, so they often have short breaths. Long, deep breaths help relax the body, Simon said. Additionally, people spend a majority of the day hunched over, so the positions that open up the shoulders and heart are beneficial, she said.

“I like yoga because it puts you more in touch with your body,” said senior Caroline Crawford, who is a student at Simon Says Yoga. “It’s also just super relaxing. Even if it’s intense yoga, you come out feeling like a new person.”

Simon’s passion about about yoga goes beyond her studio, as she finds herself incorporating it into everyday life.

“When I am standing in school the kids often say to me, ‘Mrs. Simon why are you in tree pose?’” Simon said. “I don’t even know I am doing it half the time. It is just so comfortable.”

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  • R

    Rachel BDec 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    This is a great story! Keep on rockin’ in the free world.
    Also I love yoga